Statement on the CSTD decision for the composition of the IGF Improvement WG - 17 December 2010

Honourable Mme. Sherry Ayittey
Chairperson
UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development His Excellency Mr. Frederic Riehl,
Vice Chairperson,
UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development Dear Ms. Ayittey and Mr. Riehl, Thank you for undertaking the IGF review process. We have learned that the membership of the CSTD Working Group on IGF Improvement will comprise Government representatives only and that no Civil Society, Private Sector, or Technical Community members will be included. Since it has already been announced, we, the undersigned, would like to express our strong concern about that decision which is apparently in violation of the mandate given by the concerned ECOSOC resolution, for setting up the Working Group in an ‘open and inclusive manner’. We understand that the same mandate is imminent to also be communicated through a UN General Assembly resolution. We feel that the process undertaken violates principles of “openness and inclusion” which form the background to the entire IGF process. The overall approach to this important issue related to Internet Governance is also in violation of the Tunis Agenda, paras 37, 72, 73, 76, 78, 80, 83, 97,105, and 108, both in letter and spirit. The process also clearly goes against the Chair’s Summary of Vilnius IGF consultation and the Chair’s tentative road map indicates that the Working Group will employ multi-stakeholder composition, modality and work method. As the Chair’s Summary says:
It was stressed by many participants that the multi-stakeholder character and inclusive spirit and principles of the IGF have been successful and should continue to guide the composition, modalities and working methods of the CSTD Working Group on the IGF.

Thus, it was emphasised by a large number of interventions that it was essential that the working Group be composed of a balanced number of representatives from all stakeholders - governments, civil society and the private sector.

A majority of stakeholders welcomed the Chair’s suggestion to use the model of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), which was set up in the aftermath of the 2003 Geneva phase of WSIS “in an open and inclusive manner”
In this context, we are very much concerned that the WG composition is not in fact open and inclusive and that non-governmental stakeholders (civil society, business, and Internet technical community) will be excluded from the WG membership altogether. Non-governmental stakeholders are critical to the continued development and success of building the people-centered Information Society. Their exclusion runs counter to WSIS principles including that "The international management of the Internet should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations.” We do not understand why this regressive decision was suddenly made, but we do request that this decision be reversed, even if that will introduce a degree of delay in the overall process. We respectfully call for all government members with whom we have to date acted as partners in pursuit of IGF improvement, to examine the possible consequences of this perhaps hastily-considered proposal. It is our feeling that this action might negatively impact the current ecology and future of Internet Governance which has been evolving in a unique multistakeholder manner. We further ask that an approach be pursued that is satisfactory to all stakeholders. We hope that we may have misunderstood the significance of this decision and that our reaction is therefore misplaced. However if we are not mistaken, we fear that the CSTD’s decision will lead not to the improvement, but rather, to the regression and even destruction of the IGF and the trust that has been built among the stakeholders since WSIS. A lack of meaningful multistakeholder involvement will make IGF both ineffective and irrelevant, and thwart attempts to further develop effective internet governance at this crucial time. We look forward to receiving your response at the earliest. Civil Society Internet Governance Caucus (IGC)
Co-coordinators: Jeremy Malcolm and Izumi Aizu
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